24 October 2012
Syrian children who fled the violence in Homs, Syria, sit outside a tent in the hillside town of Arsal, Lebanon. (photo: CNS/Mohamed Azakir, Reuters)
The refugee crisis in Syria continues to grow. This week, CNEWA’s regional director for Lebanon, Syria and Egypt, Issam Bishara, filed a report that helps explain the impact of this crisis:
As of 30 September 2012, the United Nations has estimated that 300,000 Syrians have fled to neighboring countries, while a further 1.5 million Syrians have fled their homes to find refuge in other towns and districts within Syria.
Accordingly, Christians have taken the same course to save their lives, but none of the Christian displaced families have fled to a refugee camp either in Turkey or in Jordan. Some of them have found temporary havens among families and communities, both within Syria and Lebanon, with whom they have cross-border connections and shared histories. However, as the host families’ ability to host becomes strained and refugees can no longer afford even the most basic rents, they will become more visible as a refugee population in need of immediate aid.
Read the full report here.
23 October 2012
Tags: Syria Lebanon Refugees Syrian Civil War Refugee Camps
The image above shows some of the girls of St. Anne’s Orphanage in Trichur, India. St. Anne’s Charitable Institute, founded by Father John Kizhakudem about 85 years ago, is administered today by the Nirmala Dasi Sisters. Read more about their work in The Orphans of Trichur from the May-June 2000 issue of the magazine. (photo: Sean Sprague)
22 October 2012
Tags: India Orphans/Orphanages
In this 2007 image, Father Giorgi Getiashvili, a priest at the Kvashveti Cathedral in Tbilisi, lights a candle at the Bodbe Church in Bodbe, Kakheti. While the church is honored now as the final resting place of St.Nino, it was used as a hospital during the Soviet era. Read more about A Georgian Revival in the May 2007 issue of ONE. (photo: Molly Corso)
19 October 2012
Tags: Orthodox Church Georgia Communism/Communist Georgian Orthodox Church
A woman is helped by a Lebanese soldier following an explosion in central Beirut on 19 October. Ambulances rushed to the scene of the blast near Sassine Square in Ashafriyeh district, a mostly Christian area, during the evening rush hour. (CNS photo/Hasan Shaaban, Reuters)
18 October 2012
Tags: Lebanon Middle East
Azaduht Babek, right, and Canik Capar harvest tomatoes in Vakifli, Turkey. (photo: Sean Sprague)
The history of Turkey’s Armenian population is dotted with tragedy, particularly in the period from the late 19th century through the early 20th. Of the most atrocious of those years, Sean Sprague writes:
Between 1915 and 1918, as part of their strategy during World War I, Ottoman Turkish forces displaced, incarcerated or exterminated the empire’s Armenian citizens. Churches, monasteries and schools were leveled or appropriated. In less than four years, an estimated 1.5 million Armenians perished at the hands of their own government, though Turkey disputes the events. Survivors fled the country or took refuge in Istanbul.
However, far from gone, Armenians maintain a small but important presence in the nation — especially in and around Istanbul, and the province of Hatay, in the south. Sprague describes Vakifli, the last remaining Armenian village of Hatay:
The village of Vakifli somehow managed to avoid the atrocities that afflicted most Armenian communities a hundred years ago. Yet, by the mid-20th century, the village no longer had adequate pastoral support or an Armenian school, and most families sent their children to Istanbul for their education. Few of these children ever returned, except on holidays.
Today, the bucolic village is largely a tourist destination for Armenians and Turks alike. The local community is largely prosperous, either catering directly to tourists or running lucrative organic farms that struggle to keep up with growing demands for their fresh tomatoes, apricots, plums, citrus fruits and other produce.
Read more in Rising from the Ruins, from the November 2010 issue of ONE.
17 October 2012
Tags: Turkey Village life Armenian Apostolic Church Armenian Catholic Church
In this 2005 photo, a man surveys his banana plantation — part of the small farm he went on to run after completing Navachaithanya’s detoxification program. (photo: Cody Christopulos)
Drug and alcohol abuse and addiction are serious problems all over the world, and India is no exception. According to a literature review published in the Indian Journal of Psychiatry, a 2009 study found that 14.2% of the population surveyed in southern, rural India indicated a hazardous level of alcohol use on the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT).
To help people suffering from addiction in Kerala, in 1991 the Syro-Malabar Catholic Eparchy of Irinjalakuda established Navachaithanya, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center.
“Alcohol has always been a problem here, it’s not just recently,” said Syro-Malabar Bishop James Pazhayattil of the Eparchy of Irinjalakuda. “Several years ago, people approached me about the problem in our community and we started Navachaithanya.” Since then, the center has treated more than 8,000 men for alcoholism or drug addiction, though alcohol is by far the area’s larger problem. ...
The Navachaithanya compound is up a slight hill, off the main road in the town of Aloor, and includes a seminary and a convent as well as the detoxification center. The accommodations are ascetic. During their stay the men sleep in bunks with thin mattresses, in crowded rooms where the heat can be stifling. There is no air-conditioning and little shade to be found in the central courtyard.
The campers receive medical treatment at a nearby clinic. Dr. V. J. Paul, who runs the clinic, treats campers with a combination of the classic Western detoxification cocktail — such as thiamin hydrochloride and sodium valproate — and local herbs and oils common to the local practice of Ayurvedic medicine. (Dr. Paul employs a different regimen to treat smokers.) Ayurvedic medicine, a holistic system of healing that originated in India some 3,000 to 5,000 years ago, remains popular throughout India. Shops containing herbal and other plant extracts are more common than modern pharmacies.
Throughout the day, campers participate in discussions and exercise groups as well as prayer sessions. Most of the campers are Christians, but Hindus and Muslims also take part and are not compelled to join in the Catholic services.
“I have no problems being here,” said Razia, a 25-year-old Muslim camper who is trying to quit smoking. “My father told me about this place and sent me here. I’ve been here for three days, and I’ve never been made to feel uncomfortable for being Muslim.”
Read more in Paul Wachter’s One Day at a Time in Kerala, from the July 2005 issue of ONE.
12 October 2012
Tags: India Health Care Multiculturalism Alcoholism
The Pontifical Mission promotes education by supporting community libraries in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Nazareth and Amman. Shown here, girls discuss reading material with Filipino Teresian Amabel Sibug at the Pontifical Mission Library in Amman. (photo: Tanya Habjouqa)
To read more about the Pontifical Mission libraries, click here.
10 October 2012
Tags: Middle East Jerusalem Jordan Bethlehem Pontifical Mission for Palestine
Children greet Msgr. Kozar on his visit to St. Anthony's Dayssadan, a home for children with physical disabilities run by the Preshitharam Sisters. (photo: John Kozar)
CNEWA works for, through, and with the churches of the East to effect real change and positive works through local partners. When CNEWA President Msgr. John Kozar visited India earlier this year, he met many individuals receiving assistance from our dedicated partners. The Preshitharam Sisters,one such group of caregivers, run St. Anthony’s Dayssadan, a home for children with physical disabilities:
The drama began the instant we arrived, when we were welcomed by all the children gathered at the front entrance to greet me with singing and clapping. Now, what I did not know was that about 80 percent of these beautiful children are not able to walk. They assembled there under their own incredible efforts. When the welcome ended they proceeded to crawl inside the building, down a long corridor (with the marble floor immaculately clean), then up a flight of stairs. I had tears watching them, as they demonstrated how they have overcome their disabilities. As I would easily discern, it is the result of the loving patience of the sisters, their devotion to teach these little ones how to overcome and to share with them the love of God for each of them. Let me tell you about three of these youngsters who typify the miracles taking place at this institution, which is supported by CNEWA.
One boy of about 15 — whose arms, hands, legs and feet are horribly contorted — demonstrated mobility by rolling himself down the long corridor, then amazingly up a long flight of stairs, all the while with a smile from ear to ear. I was choked up by his display of determination. His climbing up the staircase defied gravity, but not his human spirit.
Another special child was a 12-year-old boy, the only one presently confined to bed. He is recovering from surgeries that, hopefully, will reverse the ravages of a disease that form birth has eaten away at the bone structure in his joints. And because he is immobile, his condition is also complicated by bedsores. But do you know how this beautiful child welcomed me? He sang the most beautiful rendition, in perfect English, of “When the Saints Go Marching In.” The three of us had tears.
Read more of Msgr. Kozar’s remarks here.
9 October 2012
Tags: India CNEWA Sisters Health Care Disabilities
Faithful celebrate Mass at a Roman Catholic church in Antakya, Hatay province. (photo: Sean Sprague)
In the May 2011 issue of ONE, Sean Sprague provides a window into the variegated Christian life of the Turkish city of Antakya, once known as Antioch:
To walk through Antioch today is to walk through a city that is both historically rich and religiously diverse.
With the great medieval bazaar on one side, with its tiny shops selling nuts, dried fruits, lingerie and cell phones, the old town forms what priests enthusiastically call an “ecumenical triangle.” Within short walking distance are the synagogue to the north, the Latin Catholic church to the west, the Orthodox cathedral to the east, and a scattering of ancient mosques in all directions.
By far the most impressive church is the Orthodox cathedral. With a high dome supported by sturdy limestone columns, it is discreetly hidden behind a narrow gateway so that you almost come upon it by chance. About 100 Arabic—speaking members of the Antiochene Orthodox community attend the evening Divine Liturgy on Ascension Thursday. Father Dimitri Dogum leads his small congregation in its ancient and haunting chant. …
Five minutes away, through a warren of alleyways, stands the Latin Catholic church. Its pastor, Father Domenico Bertogli, a Capuchin from Italy, has lived in Turkey for 42 years, and in Antioch for the last two decades.
Father Bertogli explains why so many different kinds of Christians live together peaceably. “Antioch is the place where we were first called Christians,” he says, “and it should not matter whether we call ourselves Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant. Many of the young people tell me this. What matters is that we are Christians!”
Read more in Turkey’s Melting Pot.
5 October 2012
Tags: Middle East Christians Unity Ecumenism Turkey Christian Unity
Bishop Amba Tadros visits Port Said, Egypt and distributes sweets during a feast before Lent. (photo: Sean Sprague)
In 2009, writer Liam Stack reported on the efforts by Coptic Orthodox Bishop Amba Tadros to bring a sense of renewal and hope to a community along the Suez Canal that has seen alternating periods of boom, bust and bombing:
When he was installed in November 1976, he was charged with creating an Orthodox ecclesiastical jurisdiction for a city that had never had one. Port Said was also missing most of its population. As the 1967 war began, the city was evacuated in the face of a massive Israeli aerial bombardment. Soon after, Egypt lost control of the strategically important Sinai Peninsula, which lies just east of the city.
For Egyptians, it was one of the darkest periods of the country’s modern history, and, in the middle of it all, Amba Tadros was building up the local church from scratch.
“Many homes and buildings had been destroyed by bombs, and people were living in shelters or on the streets,” says the bishop, now an elderly man. “Electricity and water were difficult to have all through the day.”
Over the course of the 1970’s, people began to trickle back to their homes, but most of the city was ruined in the war.
For men like Amba Tadros it was a challenging time. Some would have found providing physical and spiritual aid to the city’s displaced residents a crushing task. But local Coptic leaders say that something unexpected grew out of the ashes: renewed friendships among peoples of all faiths that was a harbinger of a citywide renewal.
Read more about Hope and Renewal in Suez in the November 2009 issue of ONE.
Tags: Egypt Coptic Christians